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Fashion, Life

Where do you buy your clothing? | The reasons I buy cheap clothes online

A clothes rack containing yellow and mustard-coloured clothes.

Fast fashion is frowned upon by many and I understand why. The impact it is having on the environment is grave and the industry promotes a throwaway culture. However, I buy cheap clothes online and I think there’s a place in society for this type of clothing. I certainly don’t think the world should automatically condemn people that consume fast fashion. 

What is fast fashion?

‘Fast fashion’ has become something of a buzz term, but what does it actually mean? According to Wikipedia, this is “a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to describe designs that flow from the catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends”. Most cheap fashion clothing falls into the fast fashion category and there’s a lot of it on offer. You can buy dresses from £4 and a whole outfit for under a tenner from some retailers. 

It’s a fact that far too much of this cheap clothing is produced. According to The Guardian“about a fifth of mass-produced clothing does not even sell and ends up being buried, shredded or burned. Garments now account for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Synthetic fibres are being found in Arctic sea ice and in fish.” 

Why do you still buy cheap clothes online?

Whilst I agree that this industry needs to be regulated, I think it’s unfair to tar cheap fashion clothes as bad. Like most other people, I own a selection of clothing items. Some items are secondhand, some are handmade in the UK and some came from fast-fashion retailers.

I choose to shop in a variety of places, including online websites like Everything5Pounds and that is mine (and your) prerogative. I also believe that if you shop in the right way, then the fast-fashion industry can provide a money-saving clothing solution that doesn’t have to impact the environment negatively.

I’m not a shop snob

I think it’s become trendy to say “I don’t purchase fast fashion. I only buy from high-end retailers, or secondhand.” If that’s true and you’ve made that decision, then fair play to you. However, some people can’t afford that luxury and I don’t think they should be shamed for putting clothes on their own (and their children’s) backs. If you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, then you will cloth your family in a way that works for you and I don’t think you should allow anybody to shame you for doing so. 

It’s not all tatt

Last week, thanks to the joy of Facebook memories, I realised I was wearing the same dress that I had on in 2014. It’s a skater dress that I purchased from Boohoo.com. I have no idea how much it cost, but I’d guess that it was no more than £12. That dress has come out every year since I bought it and it looks brand new. 

That skater dress wasn’t a one-off fluke. I’ve bought other cheap fashion items that have lasted me a long time. Sometimes, I purchase something and I love it so much that I wear it over and over and I end up wishing I’d bought two whilst I had the chance! I’m not saying that every time I buy something, it lasts. But I think it’s wrong to say that cheap fashion clothes are only fit for the bin after a couple of wears. 

Be selective (especially in a sale)

I think the key to buying cheap clothes online is being selective. Not everything you buy on Everything5Pounds is going to look good on you and not everything is going to last. But you can be picky when deciding what to buy, as there’s plenty of choice.

That means being savvy in the sales. Yes, the discounts might be attractive, but that’s because the retailer wants to get rid of old stock, quick, to make room for new arrivals. And there’s probably a reason why certain items haven’t sold, or have been returned.

You have to ask yourself; do I really need six new tops, two new black dresses, four pairs of shoes and nightwear in four different colours? If the answer is no, put it back! Buying with a view to sending back if it isn’t right is also risky, because will you actually bothered to return it?

As a rue of thumb, I tend to look at something and think, how often will I wear that? Usually, I work out if I can get an item down to £1 per wear. This means, if an item is £30, I need to be sure in my mind that I will get at least 30 wears out of it.  

I am also very selective when buying things like knickers. You won’t find any dental-floss underwear in these parts, no matter how cheap they are!

Re-purpose old clothes (do you really need new shoes, a new coat and a new black dress?)

It can be tempting to buy a new piece of clothing for every occasion. But you should try to shop your wardrobe if you can. Perhaps you could dress an old outfit up differently, with new accessories. 

When I was younger, I used to worry about being seen in the same outfit twice, but this is something which I’ve got over with age. Because, guess what? Clothes are meant to be worn again and nobody cares what you’re wearing anyway!

Give stuff away

Sometimes you go off something, or it no longer fits. But that doesn’t mean it has to go in the bin. You can send it to the charity shop if it’s in good condition, or pass it onto a friend. 

Make sure you do the same with kids clothing. You can pick up gorgeous things for girls and boys both online and on the highstreet. You can also buy items of school uniform for cheap. But children do grow quickly, so when it no longer fits, pass it on, so the items gets some more wear.

If an item is too worn to wear again, then I’ll take it to my local recycling centre. I’ve also cut up old dresses to use as dusters and a friend of mine has made pin cushions and blankets out of her old clothes. 

Keep reading

I keep my ear to the ground, to ensure that I’m informed about fast fashion. If I hear that a particular company isn’t adhering to good practice then I take my custom elsewhere. But I will keep an item if I’ve already purchased it.

The image shows a woman, posing for a picture, wearing a yellow tracksuit on a beach. The text over the image reads: ‘hacks: the reasons why I buy cheap fashion clothes’.

Is it worth buying cheap clothes online?

I know that fast fashion is a problem and collectively we need to do something to solve it. However cheap fashion clothing isn’t the devil. 

Is buying cheap fashion clothes worth it? Absolutely. Is fast fashion a problem? Absolutely. But I don’t think the two are interchangeable. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this article and you’re interested in other pieces of alternative opinion, then check out my article on no risk matched betting and the reasons I don’t think it exists.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2021, but it has seen been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.